United, We Share: Brand Partnerships and Social Media

Social media provides businesses with opportunities far beyond the obvious. Most businesses understand how social media can improve the customer/business relationship, and provide important market research information. Knowing what your customers like — and more importantly, dislike — is never a waste.

brand partnerships

Too often, however, businesses never explore social media’s business-to-business opportunities. By forging partnerships, businesses can increase readership, spread their message to new markets and increase brand awareness.

Brand Messages and Partnerships

Creating a brand voice and establishing your brand message are important aspects of social media campaigns. Some businesses, especially smaller companies, may be concerned that a social media partnership will somehow dilute their message. They worry their own message will get lost in their partner’s voice.

To avoid message dilution, it’s important that your partner offers services or products related to, but not identical to your own business. For instance, a dishwasher repair service probably shouldn’t partner with an accounting company. The two businesses have little in common.

On the other hand, the dishwasher repair business could partner with businesses selling dishwasher parts, dish-washing solutions, or kitchen accessories. Consumers can see a definite link between the two companies, and there’s plenty of common ground to build campaigns.

Miracle-Gro and Farmville

Miracle-Gro and Farmville’s digital marketing campaign provide an excellent example of how well a social media partnership can work. The connection between the two companies is easily apparent. Miracle-Gro provides gardening products, and Zynga’s Farmville is a casual game about farming. According to Zynga’s research, 80 percent of Farmville players enjoyed gardening, making the partnership an obvious choice.

Miracle-Gro created a farm on Farmville. Visitors to the farm were redirected to Miracle-Gro’s Facebook page, where they were encouraged to like the page. Those who liked the page received a free gift: a tomato plant and branded watering can.

How effective was the campaign? Miracle-Gro’s Friends list increased 15,214 percent in just three days. The campaigns “People Talking about This” count exceeded 300,000. At the end of the campaign, Zynga received numerous fan requests for a second campaign.

Why did the Miracle-Gro/Farmville campaign succeed so well? The connection between the companies was cleverly designed. Consumers had opportunities to interact with both companies through Miracle-Gro’s in-game farm, and received a concrete gift for their time. Most importantly, though, the relationship between the two businesses was relevant and easily recognizable.

Ideas for Partnerships

Few companies have the resources of Miracle-Gro or Zynga, both giants in their respective fields. Many of us have to balance social media concerns against the cost of SEO and other mundane, but essential, monthly bills. However, even small partnerships can improve your social media campaign and spread your brand awareness.

Ask relevant businesses to donate prizes for your contests or give-aways. You get to offer prizes that might otherwise be unobtainable, and your partner gets increased public exposure. Donating prizes to your partner allows you to benefit from other sides of this arrangement.

Partnerships can be as simple as agreeing to retweet or cross-post each other’s content. Both parties use cross-posting to expose their message to a new audience of readers and encouraging your partner’s readers to follow you.

Ask partners to link to your social media page in their blogs and email newsletters, and offer to give them the same courtesy. The links should, of course, be relevant to the blog or newsletter’s topic.

Keep relevancy in mind at all times. Both parties should bring something of worth to their followers and each other, be it contest prizes, sale discounts or high-quality information. With a little imagination, you can greatly improve your brand reputation and consumer awareness with social media partnerships.

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